The ‘shocked’ family members of missing 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari wrote a handwritten note saying they are ‘devastated and absolutely heartbroken’ by her passing.
Madalina was last seen on Nov. 21 when surveillance footage captured her getting off a school bus at her home in Cornelius, North Carolina.
More than three weeks passed before her mother finally reported her missing to a school resource officer at Bailey Middle School on December 15.
School officials then alerted law enforcement, sparking a huge manhunt to find the 11-year-old.
The girl’s whereabouts remain unknown and her mother and stepfather are behind bars – each accused of failing to report a missing child to law enforcement.
A week after the search began, Cornelius Police shared the note from the missing girl’s family members and urged the public to “please read it and put yourself in their shoes.”
In the note, the unnamed relatives said they remained “hope and positivity” that the girl would be found safe, as more than a month has now passed since she was seen for the last time.
They thanked law enforcement and the public for helping to find the ‘beautiful, smart, kind and loving’ 11-year-old and urged people to keep sharing information.
“We, as a family, are devastated and absolutely heartbroken to learn that Madalina is missing,” the note read.
“We love Madalina and are shocked by these circumstances. It is something no child or family should ever have to endure.
The note goes on to say that the family is doing everything possible to find Madalina and “bring her home”.
“Madalina is a beautiful, smart, kind and loving 11-year-old girl with greatness in her future,” he says.
“We are desperate to find her right now, she needs ALL of our help,” adding that “every share can be one step closer to finding her.”
It’s unclear which family member wrote the heartbreaking note, but an FBI official confirmed to WBTV that it was not Madalina’s mother or stepfather – both of whom are currently in custody on sight for his disappearance.
Court records obtained by WBTV revealed that Madalina’s mother, Diana Cojocari, told investigators that her husband and Madalina’s stepfather, Christopher Palmiter, “put her family at risk”.
It’s unclear why she thought this, but she insisted she didn’t know what happened to her daughter.
She said Madalina did not have a phone or any friends or family she could be with and that a school bag and some of her clothes were missing from their family home, according to the probable cause document.
The girl’s mother also told investigators that family members in Moldova urged her to call the police about her daughter’s disappearance, but she was reluctant to do so. Instead, she failed to report her missing for a staggering 22 days.
Ms. Cojocari and Mr. Palmitter say they last saw Madalina on November 23.
Investigators have been unable to verify the claim, with the last confirmed sighting of the 11-year-old girl dating back two days when she was spotted in surveillance footage getting off her school bus.
In the footage, the sixth grader is seen wearing a plain t-shirt and backpack as she walks down the aisle of the bus on November 21. The girl arranges her necklace and her hair as she walks.
Police said Madalina got off the bus at her stop at 4:59 p.m., marking the last time investigators have independent confirmation of when she was last seen.
“We are looking for additional witnesses outside of the family to clarify the exact timeline of his disappearance,” Cornelius Police said.
“As previously announced, employees of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School contacted Diana Cojocari on several occasions to inquire about Madalina’s absence from school. After repeated contact, Diana Cojocari visited the Bailey Middle School on December 15, 2022 and reported to the School Resource Manager that Madalina was missing.
Since then, a huge search has been underway to find the missing girl with multiple law enforcement agencies including the FBI and SBI assisting Cornelius Police.
This week, digital billboards popped up along the nearby highway and investigators descended on the girl’s home for the second time.
On Wednesday evening, a strong police presence was spotted returning to the girl’s home to carry out a second search. Investigators already searched the address last weekend and were seen digging up the backyard.
Inside the home, officials had found a secret area in the kitchen blocked off with plywood, according to court documents.
When asked about it, Mr Palmiter reportedly told investigators he had planned to create a separate apartment in the space.
It is unclear whether search teams removed the boards and walked through this particular area of the property.
Investigators also focused their attention on nearby Lake Cornelius.
The FBI’s Charlotte Field Office said in a social media post Monday that the search for the water was a “precautionary measure” and was simply “part of the normal investigative process.”
On December 17, Ms. Cojocari and Mr. Palmiter were arrested and each charged with one count of failing to report a missing child to law enforcement.
Both suspects are being held at the Mecklenburg County Detention Center.
A neighbor told a local outletWCCB that the girl’s disappearance shocked the neighborhood.
“I’ve lived here all my life, so I’ve never seen anything like it,” Sydney Capps said. “It’s strange that it seems she disappeared in November, and it was just reported.”
Madalina was last seen wearing jeans, pink, purple and white Adidas shoes and a white t-shirt and jacket.
She is described as having brown hair and brown eyes, being 4ft 10in tall and weighing around 90lbs.
Anyone with information about Madalina’s whereabouts is asked to call the Cornelius Police Department at 704-892-7773.
The Independent Gt